Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Release date: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Rating: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MY BRAIN IS BROKEN. I CAN'T TURN THE CAPS-LOCK OFF. DEFINITELY NOT A CASE OF "SECOND BOOK SYNDROME".
Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
I would like to thank the amazing and most wonderful Christina for sending me this ARC. She deserves all the good things ever in the world. I might even share Sturmhond with her (might, big might).
My review of Shadow and Bone, book one in the Grisha Trilogy.
As always with sequels, there be spoilers for Book One in these waters. Ye be warned.
The cover: So obviously this cover is beyond gorgeous and few covers can ever compare to the beauteous-ness that is Siege and Storm so all the other covers should just go home. Hello. This one has a dragon on it. You can't beat a dragon.
The story: Okay. So. My brain is little more than scrambled eggs right now. This may be a very discombobulated review, but the main gist of it is: I LOVED this book, especially at the beginning and ESPECIALLY at the end. That end blew my socks off. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
At the end of Shadow and Bone, we left Alina and Mal just after they'd escaped from the Darkling on the Fold, aka that pesky swath of impenetrable darkness bisecting their war-torn homeland of Ravka. They're on the run across the True Sea, trying to evade him. Lucky for me, the Darkling's number one fan girl, they don't evade him for very long. I clapped with glee when my dark and evil prince returned to my life. He's a little badder know. A little eviller, a little more dangerous,
Mal and Alina's relationship suffers a bit in this book, and it's so realistic and natural and painful. Their differences make them drift apart, and you spend the whole book aching for them to remember their shared past and find each other again. DO THEY? I WON'T TELL. But because Leigh Bardugo knows the things I like (magic, fictional pain, and hot fictional boys), she chose to do something totally crazy and add a THIRD potential suitor for
Sturmhond. Hello, Sturmhond.
|Zac here's gonna do most of the talking from here on out.|
Sexy, silver-tongued privateer Sturmhond is, hands down, my new favorite character. He's changeable and slippery and oh so very witty. One of my favorite things about Siege and Storm is that, despite the very serious matters afoot, the characters retain a sense of humor, and none moreso than the delightful Sturmhond. I found myself laughing aloud almost every time he was on the page. I just want to sit down and share a bottle of kvas with him and have him flirt with me shamelessly. He and Alina have an excellent and awesome rapport. Their connection is so different from the one she shares with Mal. Alina herself has a really interesting internal journey in this one. She's grappling with a lot of power, the hopes of a divided nation, and the person she seems to be changing into. Also, she might be losing her mind (in the best/worst way possible). I don't dare say another word about it, but I have to say I love the complex person she's becoming. Dark parts and all.
Other character standouts include my old favorite David, kick-ass Tamar, and the awful Vasily. I can't really say anything about him, but MAN. Talk about disastrous characters flaws. So wonderful. So awful. Bardugo's writing continues to be lush and evocative, and her dialogue is witty, sharp, and always manages to stab me right in the heart. Her world-building is off the charts. Seriously, I would be willing to read a whole book on Ravkan folklore, or one about the saints. The Russophile in me adores all the call-backs to real Russian culture, but I also love the original twists she puts on it (a proto-Faberge egg even pops up at some point, which for nerdy, personal reasons delights me greatly).
So. The plot.
The Darkling catches up to Mal and Alina in the first chapter, so that's not a spoiler, and they head right back across the seas as his captives on one of Sturmhond's ships. They're off to catch an ice dragon. As one does. Now, I thought that would be the bulk of the plot, them on this ice dragon quest, but NOPE. THINGS HAPPEN SO QUICKLY. It's like one second we were here, and then this whole new wrench came out of nowhere and my mind was spinning. Somebody must have handed Bardugo a typical Book Two plot outline, and she must have laughed in its typical Book Two face, torn it to pieces, and simply said, "No." Things might have slowed down a little there in the middle, but in retrospect I was glad for the breather and for a chance to get some excellent political information. I'm usually pretty good at predicting the plots of books, but I literally had not one clue as to what was going to happen next. Eventually I just gave up trying to figure it out.
Which is why when the ending happened, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
God knows what Ruin and Rising is even going to be about. The ending of Siege and Storm was my favorite part of the whole book because it was just this cavalcade of dread and action and misery and awesome. The whole last portion of the story was building up to this final point of conflict, slowly making me tenser and tenser, because I knew it was coming. But then SURPRISES WE'VE PUSHED THE ENDING UP AT BIT. IT SPRINGS OUT AT YOU BEFORE YOU'RE READY HOLY CRAP SOMEONE HOLD ME STURMHOND ZAC WHERE ARE YOU
With the way things ended, I literally don't have the faintest notion of anything that's going to happen in the next book. All the events in Siege and Storm are so radical that they change the entire landscape of Ravka. AND MY SOUL, I think. Reading this book was not a passive experience. Reading the final thirty pages consisted of me whispering, "Oh no, oh no, oh no, OH MY GOD, YES! No? No. NOOOOOOOO!" and flailing on my couch so dramatically that I scared my dog. I think I loved this book more than I loved Shadow and Bone, if that can be believed.
So. Ruin and Rising. It needs to be in my hands, and it needs to be there now. Because I CANNOT WAIT to see who rises and who's ruined. Here's to hoping it's our Sun Summoner Alina that rises, and not the Darkling (so many dirty jokes I had to pass up just now. It hurts).